What turns a good writer into a superstar? 200 years and plenty of spectacle

In commemoration of the approximate 200th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth, the London actor and theatrical entrepreneur David Garrick launched the first celebration of Shakespeare as “the god of our idolatry” in 1769, helping to fashion the Bard as the larger-than-life, iconic representation of English literary achievement. The events that Garrick planned on the sacred site… Continue Reading »




What happens when actors, musicians, and scholars collaborate on a Restoration Shakespeare play

Part of what makes the Folger Shakespeare Library special is that while scholars are busy creating new knowledge in the reading rooms, actors and musicians in the adjacent theater are busy creating world-class performances. Amazing things result when scholars and artists break down the wall that traditionally separates them and start collaborating. That’s what happened… Continue Reading »


Measure for Measure + Dido and Aeneas: A Shakespeare-opera mash-up from 1699 takes the stage

Sometimes characterized as a “problem play,” Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure was first performed in the early 1600’s and was printed in the 1623 First Folio where it is listed as a comedy. During the Restoration, many of Shakespeare’s plays were adapted to suit the times, and Measure is no exception. Playwrights deleted problematic characters, moral complexities, and language that Restoration audiences would have found objectionable…. Continue Reading »


Repetition is celebrity: Shakespeare and Austen

As curators of Will & Jane: Shakespeare, Austen, and the Cult of Celebrity we both began our work in the archives with established interests in the connections between literary greatness and consumer culture. Janine has written about the marketing tactics and packaging of the earliest English novels as well as about modern book jackets, while… Continue Reading »


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